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The Steven Wallace Shooting
30 April 2000, 4am in the town of Waitara, a cop and a criminal stood locked in what was to become one of New Zealand’s most controversial face offs. Broken glass and battered cars lay around them. All the product of a golf club attack wheedled by Steven Wallace.
As Senior Constable Keith Abbott drew his gun, Wallace advanced towards him armed with a baseball bat and a golf club. When after a warning was given, a retreat had been made and a warning shot failed to stop the advancing Wallace, Abbott fired 4 shots. Wallace fell to the ground. Steven Wallace later died in hospital.

It’s unclear what sparked Steven Wallace’s rampage through Waitara that night. After cooking his tea and watched a Super 12 game on T.V, Steven had headed out to a New Plymouth bar. Once returning home it is unclear what triggered the violent reaction that would end his life only hours later. Neighbours to the Wallaces were said to have heard yelling and swearing as Wallace beat the family shed with a golf club around 3am that morning. His mother stood by calling to him to calm down and come inside. Wallace threw the golf clubs in the boot of his car and sped away with blood-alcohol level twice that of the legal driving limit. As he left his mother was worried enough to dial 111 but hung up before the call was answered.

Wallace rampaged like a man possessed. Leaving golf clubs at various scenes he smashed and beat windows and cars. 3 cars were damaged. A taxi with passengers, a private car with 6 youths in it, the third car was a police patrol car. It has been said that night Wallace was intent on killing either himself or someone else and that the Senior Constable was an unwitting pawn in his game.

Collecting his pistol from the police station, Senior Constable Keith Abbott arrived at the scene of destruction. Beaten cars and 140 smashed windows a testimony of the Suspects State of mind. Steven Wallace began to aggressively advance on Abbott armed with a golf club and a baseball bat. Negotiation with the man proved fruitless. Wallace was warned that the policeman was armed and a warning shot was fired. With still no sign of the danger of the attack lessening Abbott withdrew 50m but was circled by Wallace and was cut off. When he reached 20m away Wallace threw the golf club at the Constables head causing him to duck and continued advancing with the softball bat. Abbott shot four shots before the man fell at 5-6m from the constable.

With Wallace death the nightmare of that horrific evening was far from over for Senior Constable Abbott and both his and Wallace’s family. A police investigation was lunched and Abbott’s actions were presented to an independent review. Although the review found that Constable had acted lawfully, Abbott moved his family soon after the incident. The wife of Keith Abbott was harassed and abused by members of Wallace's family. After one occasion in August 2001 when Mrs Abbott was followed home, there was a ruling that the Wallace's were prohibited to associate with the Abbott family for a 12 month period.

The Wallace Family brought a private prosecution against the Constable in September 2001. By February 2002, justices of the peace also found Abbott acted in self-defence and the case was dismissed. However in an appeal in June 02 a Chief Justice overturned the decision and the case went to the High Court. It wasn’t until 04 December 2002, that Abbott ordeal was finally over with an acquittal in the Wellington High Court after a jury deliberated for less than three hours.

Approximately 31 months after the shooting Abbott is about to return to full duties in the New Year of 2003



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30 April 2000, 4am in the town of Waitara, a cop and a criminal stood locked in what was to become one of New Zealand’s most controversial face offs. Broken glass and battered cars lay around them. All the product of a golf club attack wheedled by Steven

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